The Enemy of my Enemy is my Ally

“What others now are saying is what TLR warned about years ago.” – The Lonely Realist

In a recent opinion piece in Bloomberg, noted historian Niall Ferguson emphasized longstanding TLR themes, one of which is “the formation and consolidation of an Axis.” TLR readers witnessed the construction of the Axis, learning about its many dimensions, actions and imperatives 5 years ago when TLR explained that America’s trade sanctions would lead to the creation of an “Axis of the Sanctioned.” TLR doubled down on the label and that prediction thereafter, delineating the many ways in which China, Russia, Iran, North Korea and Venezuela were aligning their interests to attack fend off American hegemony (“amicus meus, inimicus inimici mei” = my friend is the the enemy of my enemy). Mr. Ferguson in his editorial mirrored another TLR theme when he equated American isolationists of the 1930s with their 21st Century counterparts who, he says, insist that “the war in Ukraine is just ‘a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing,’ as British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain infamously said of Czechoslovakia in September 1938.” TLR used the same analogy more than 5 years ago, reiterating it in March 2020, noting that “plagued by partisanship and disorganized decision-making and wedded to a goal of ‘peace for our time’ (the goal expressed by Neville Chamberlain in his 1938 speech lauding the Munich Agreement that handed Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany), America’s actions have led China, Iran and Russia to take increasingly more brazen actions with the confidence that doing so will have little or no military consequences, but instead will incentivize America to further retreat from the international scene…,” which is precisely what has happened. Both Mr. Ferguson’s conclusions and TLR’s analyses follow from long-term American retreats actions: America’s 2008 failure to address Russia’s invasion of Georgia, its 2012 red line in Syria’s sand that was drawn in disappearing ink (per John McCain), its failure to address Russia’s 2014 invasion of Crimea, America’s 2018 balking at its NATO commitments, its 2019 abandonment of its Kurdish allies, its 2019 withdrawals from Syria and Iraq, the Trump Administration’s 2020 pledge to unilaterally withdraw American soldiers from Afghanistan followed by the Biden Administration’s chaotic 2021 withdrawal, and America’s disregard of cyber-attacks against its electoral apparatus. All have emboldened the Axis.

Mr. Ferguson’s recent Bloomberg piece advocated another major (and recently emphasized) TLR theme, that America’s deficit spending and debt are catastrophically unsustainable: “True of Hapsburg Spain, true of ancient regime France, true of the Ottoman Empire, true of the British Empire, the lesson that any great power that spends more on debt service (interest payments on the national debt) than on defense will not stay great for very long, a truth that is about to be put to the test by the US beginning this very year, when America’s net interest outlays will be 3.1% of GDP, defense spending 3.0%” (the same point made last month in an editorial by George Will … as well as by TLR in a series of commentaries that began five years ago and are summarized here).

It is primarily now that other commentators are picking up their pens to address themes that have long concerned TLR. These include not only the wars (cold and hot) that America’s enemies – the Axis – have been waging for years against American interests (highlighted by TLR in “Red Storm Rising” and “When is a Nation at War”) and the deficits and debt that threaten Americans’ wellbeing, but also the “exorbitant privilege” conferred on America by the reserve currency status of the Dollar that the Axis is striving to undermine (here, here and here) and with respect to which America seemingly is oblivious. TLR long ago highlighted why Taiwan is a trip-wire that cannot be ignored, although it largely was for years, and why America’s recent practice of speaking loudly and carrying a little stick has encouraged the Axis’s inroads with non-aligned nations as well as with American allies and former friends (e.g., Austria, Hungary, Turkey). Niall Ferguson, Ray Dalio (whose direr warnings have been described in prior TLRs), George Will, Robert G. Kaufman and other prominent commentators now are voicing precisely the concerns that TLR has been consistently highlighting since 2019. Perhaps their stronger voices will spark the necessary responses … where TLR’s commentaries have not.

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Finally (from a good friend)

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